I recently was asked a series of questions by about why there is so little right-wing street art by Paul Schmelzer (editor for the Minnesota Independent) for his Eyeteeth Blog. He crafted a post around my answers, and here it is:
At the 2009 Conservative Political Action (CPAC) conference this weekend, The Daily Beast’s Max Blumenthal found a rare kind of artist: a conservative hip hop musician. Self-defined “Republican rapper” Hi-Caliber says he takes inspiration from the likes of Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh to lay down lyrics like: “A socialist in the White House / what have we done? / You think Bush was bad? / Now the real fun has begun / The Democrats want to take my gun…”
But what Blumenthal found at CPAC, I haven’t had much luck in finding in the visual arts: interesting street art coming from a right-of-center perspective. In my search, raised in my Thursday post, “Where’s all the rightwing street art?,” I got in touch with artist Josh MacPhee, who founded Justseeds, an artists’ cooperative, online store, and blog. He couldn’t offer examples of artists, but he shared his thoughts on the topic of why they’re so hard to find.
He says the American political Left draws from a long history of visual agit-prop, whereas conservatives have used other vehicles. “When [the Right] is marginalized, it has built itself through local radio broadcasts, direct mailings, election to local office, etc.—channels that appear to be legal, mainstream, and legitimate,” he says. “The Left has no problem appearing to be speaking from the margins (even if they are speaking from a position generally held by the vast majority, i.e. the anti-war position right now), but the Right always wants to speak from the center, to claim they are being marginalized, but simultaneously appear to be legitimate and supported by the majority.”
He posits that illegal or guerrilla art has long been a way for people whose voices aren’t represented by corporate media channels to be heard. “For most of the history of this country, and more specifically for the past eight years, the ideas and opinions of the right wing, and even the extreme right wing, have been common currency. They are seen in daily newspapers, heard on the radio, even spread across billboards,” he says. “There is much less of a need for right-wing graffiti, when the right wing speaks to the hundreds of millions from TV screens and evangelical church pulpits.”